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“Bringing history to life” – Dan blogging on National Treasures Live

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Dan’s written a blog for the BBC History Magazine website on putting together National Treasures Live.

Can history compete at prime time on Britain’s biggest channel? That was the challenge I was set by the BBC’s top brass. Me and a crack team of producers and researchers were told to come up with a history series that would bring popular history to the heart of BBC One.

We were given five slots, at 7.30pm – and we would be broadcasting live to the nation’s living rooms. The team assembled and the lengthy, intense and often amusing discussions began.
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Dan on Facebook

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

For those of you on Facebook, Dan’s recently created his own page. This can be found here.

Tamworth Castle on TV

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

From the Tamworth blog:

The BBC’s ‘History Hunter’, Dan Snow, visited Tamworth Castle in a bid to unlock historical secrets behind the Staffordshire Hoard.

The programme which airs on Sunday July 3 (BBC One, 6pm), will see TV historian Dan Snow travel across the old Kingdom of Mercia, unravelling the secrets of the Staffordshire Hoard – one of Britain’s most significant discoveries.

Dan spent the morning at Tamworth Castle, exploring the significance of the Staffordshire Hoard and the important historic role Tamworth has in the story.

Dig WWII-related round-up

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011


This week a team of archaeologists began to recover his wrecked plane for a series to be shown on the BBC next year. But presenter Dan Snow acknowledges that the truly unique element of the story is the camp in County Kildare to which Wolfe was taken by the Irish authorities. “It was not just the British and their allies who got lost above and around Ireland,” he says. “German sailors from destroyed U-boats and Luftwaffe aircrew also found themselves interned. The juxtaposition of the two sides made for surreal drama.” The Curragh, a wide plain west of Dublin, had been used as a military muster area and training ground for centuries.


Neutral Historian Dan Snow said: “It’s incredible because it’s just so wet here that the ground just sucked it up and the plane burrowed into it and it’s been preserved.”


Historian Dan Snow said: “The plane itself is obviously kind of wreckage and the big pieces survived. We’re expecting to find things like the engine and there still may be personal effects in the cockpit.

“It’s just incredible because it’s just so wet here that the ground just sucked it up and the plane was able to burrow into it and it’s been preserved.

“It’s in amazing condition,” he told RTE radio.

Mr Snow said Mr Wolf was forced to abandon his Spitfire over the Republic when its engine overheated about 13 miles from his base at RAF Eglinton, now Derry International Airport, in Northern Ireland.

Other articles:

Dan on the BBC TV Blog

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Dan wrote an entry for the BBC TV Blog on his series Filthy Cities:

When the BBC got in touch with me and suggested a series about the history of filth I was suitably nervous.

In Filthy Cities, they wanted a series which explored the idea that we humans create a huge amount of waste that, if left untreated, can destroy us.
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BBC’s Filthy Cities Airing In Smell-O-Vision

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

From On the

The BBC is about to take our nostrils back in time with scratch’n’sniff cards that recreate the whiff of medieval London and revoloutionary Paris, to accompany new documentary Filthy Cities.

The show, presented by Dan Snow, will begin on BBC2 on Tuesday evening, when you can experience first-hand (or nose) the world’s most glamourous cities, back when they weren’t so glamorous.

Writing in the Sun, Dan said: “Ever since our childhood, a waft of a smell can bring back memories and emotions. To be able to trigger that at home through a television show is very exciting.”

Among the smells of sewage, ‘Pong de Paris’ and an 18th Century Tannery, there’s also the, rather nice, whiff of Marie Antoinette’s perfume. Pick up a scratch-n-sniff card from your local library from today to smell-along with the show.

Forget 3D, it’s all about watching smell-o-vision these days!

Hope you all picked up your scratch-n-sniff card from the Radio Times or local library!

Interview with TV Choice Magazine

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

From here:
Dan Snow
Dan Snow
Filthy Cities

TV historian Dan Snow jokes that his latest project didn’t feel like the easiest way to make a living! Filthy Cities aims to bring to life the stinking histories of London, Paris and New York, with CGI ‘ageing’ the city streets.

Hands-on Dan, 32, goes down into sewers, shovels five tons of horse poo, butchers a pig with a medieval axe, and allows himself to be covered in lice and be bitten by a rat and a leech! TV Choice asks: in heaven’s name why?!

Er, Dan, what an unusual idea for a programme…
“It’s a rancid idea! But I’ve always been interested in waste and our society. Basically, human beings create the seeds of our own destruction. Our waste has the capacity to destroy us, and that’s quite a weird idea, really. We can only really live in these big cities because we’ve worked out ways to get rid of this waste, and so I wanted to go back and look at the medieval city, the early modern city and the very modern city to see how we’ve overcome these giant problems.”

The first programme looks at London. What was it like in medieval times?
“London was particularly bad. They had to put all the muck in carts and take it out to the fields, they’d chop up animals and empty the entrails into the Thames, which became one vast sewer. And, of course people would wash in the Thames and they’d get cholera. Conditions were unspeakably horrible.”

You actually stand in London’s River Fleet, which some people won’t know about.
“Yes, the river’s still there, it’s just confined into a tiny little sewer underground now. The thing about the Fleet is that it got so choked up with sewage that it actually stopped running as a river. Newgate Prison was there, and the smell and the disease were so unbelievably bad that medieval Londoners started worrying about the health of the prisoners!”

Was it difficult getting permission from city councils for some of the stunts in the series?
“It was a heck of a series to work on. You can imagine how hard it is to get five tons of horse manure dumped on a busy City of London street, or how to get the New York council to put a 6ft high block of frozen horse poo on the street to show what it would have been like in winter in the 19th century! But I was learning new stuff endlessly, it was absolutely fascinating.”

But didn’t you baulk at some of the things the producers got you to do, like being bitten by a rat?
“I baulked at everything, really! I went into a flat in New York where a mentally ill woman had shut herself in for 30 years, and the flat was full of human waste and rats and lice and all sorts of nasty things. So that was very unpleasant.”

Martina Fowler

‘Death or Victory’: Wolfe and the Capture of Quebec – Podcast

Monday, March 29th, 2010

‘Death or Victory’: Wolfe and the Capture of Quebec – MP3 Audio — Defence Academy of the United Kingdom.

Dan Snow gives a detailed account of the seven year campaign and the Battle of Quebec in 1759. He stresses the important role played by the British Navy in charting the St Lawrence River and organising the amphibious landing.

Click the link above to download the podcast.

DAN SNOW: How the Royal Navy gave us the Bank of England, a civil service and tinned food (not to mention a global empire) | Mail Online

Monday, January 11th, 2010

It was the ingenuity that struck me: how a combination of wood, rope and metal could take you thousands of miles across the ocean.

I was sailing on the replica of the Matthew, the ship which explorer John Cabot launched from Bristol in 1497 in search of the New World. Henry VIII had asked him to 'seeke out, discover and finde whatsoever iles, countreyes, regions or provinces'. Eventually, Cabot landed in Newfoundland and took possession of it in the name of the King.

As I hoisted the sails, I was overwhelmed by what a daunting experience it must have been to venture into the unknown. Yet it was that spirit of discovery and endeavour that led to Britain becoming the greatest naval power the world had ever seen.

via DAN SNOW: How the Royal Navy gave us the Bank of England, a civil service and tinned food (not to mention a global empire) | Mail Online.

Christmas has long been a time for gluttony | BBC History Magazine

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Christmas is approaching; people are giving themselves over to wild excess, while misanthropes moan. They wail that Christmas has become a festival of excess, an orgy of licentiousness, a celebration of gluttony.

Since these are exactly the aspects of Christmas that I most enjoy, I bridle when told by misguided joyless folk that I am betraying the true spirit of Christmas. Particularly because anyone with a passing knowledge of the history of the midwinter festival now known as Christmas will know that ever since humans became capable of sharing a common culture, they have let their hair down and partied at the time of year when the days are shortest.

via Christmas has long been a time for gluttony | BBC History Magazine.